Obama to regulate power plant emissions

Following through on his commitment to address climate change in his second term, President Obama is releasing new carbon regulations that will apply to power plants.


Since electric generation facilities are responsible for about a third of total US emissions annually, the president is tackling the largest concentrated source of carbon emissions in the country.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working on draft rules that will apply to all new power plants to ensure they meet new performance thresholds.


President Obama’s plan directs the EPA to issue regulations for new facilities by September 2013. Rules for existing power plants are expected by June 2014.


The EPA will work closely with states over the next few years to implement these new regulations, and will allow some flexibility as to how individual state’s can achieve emission reductions.


This flexibility could include a carbon market similar to the one currently in place in California.


To reduce statewide emissions back to 1990 levels by 2020, California is requiring large businesses to account for their annual emissions by purchasing carbon allowances and credits.


The California carbon market was designed to link with other jurisdictions (Quebec will be joining in 2014), so other US states may opt to pair with the California market.


The goal of these regulations is to encourage companies to improve the efficiency of their operations and stimulate advances in clean energy technologies.